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This research was based on the based the topic: Gender issues in Advertisements, impact and application (a study of Joy soup). It went along way to provide clear understanding of the reasons for gender displays in advertisements, particularly the motives and outcome of the often use of the feminine gender as instruments of attraction in adverts as seen in Joy soap adverts. Advertisement is meant to gain consumer acceptance of goods through presenting the benefits of such goods and showing them what they want to see, hence the adoption of the uses and gratification theory of media in this research to explain the reasons for gender displays. Survey methods of research came into play to sample and evaluate the responses of one hundred respondents in Enugu metropolis with a well articulated questionnaire that gave answers to my research questions and brought about the following conclusions and recommendations: Advertisement is a gender issue because even though goods are advertised but men are used to gratify women and women to gratify women in order to gain the interest of both genders, So I recommend that gender displays should be encouraged but balance must be stroke, rather than negative objectification of the feminine gender in adverts as concluded through the hypotheses test results which has a greater number of respondents believing that these portrayals are seductive, making its impact morally negative. I also recommend Animations could be used as alternative to gender displays




I specially acknowledge my able and respectable lecturer, a man of integrity and my supervisor, Dr. Ifeanyi Ojobor for his many instructions that did not only guide me through this research work but also saw me through my final year in the department of mass communication. Particularly, I learnt how to properly punctuate, proofread works for correction and the essence of good reference which are only a pinch of all I learnt by sitting under his lectures, instructions and supervision.

I acknowledge the Director, School of Communication arts: Sculptor Okey Ikenegbu, the H.O. D of mass communication: Mr. Ikechukwu Nnadiukwu, Mark Eze (Esq.), Mr. Sam Omeje, and other lecturers of the department of mass communication, IMT, Enugu who guided me to live my dream as a Journalist.

 I will not fail to acknowledge my loving mother, brothers and sisters who stood by me through these years of financially demanding academic pursuit.

Finally, I acknowledge my dear classmates who s have been of immense help to me throughout this level of education. Especially the persons of Ebuka Okonkwo and Theodore.




COVER PAGE                                                                                 I

TITLE PAGE                                                                                    II

APPROVAL PAGE                                                                           III

DEDICATION                                                                                  IV

ABSTRACT                                                                                     V

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT                                                                 VI

TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                                   VII



1.1. BACKGROUND OF STUDY                                                     1

1.2. STATEMENT OF RESEARCH PROBLEMS                             6

1.3. OBJECTIVES OF STUDY                                                          6

1.4. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY                                             6

1.5. RESEARCH QUESTIONS                                                          7

1.6. RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS                                                       7

1.7. THEORITICAL FRAMEWORK                                                 8

1.8. SCOPE OF STUDY                                                                    9

1.9. LIMITATION OF STUDY                                                          9

1.10. DEFINITION OF TERMS                                                        10



2.1. SOURCE OF LITERATURE                                                      13

2.2. REVIEW OF RELEVANT LITERATURES                                13

2.3. SUMMARY OF LITERATURE                                                  20



3.1. RESEARCH METHOD                                                              22

3.2. RESEARCH DESIGN                                                                 22

3.3. RESEARCH SAMPLE                                                               23

3.4. METHOD OF DATA COLLECTION                                         24

3.5. METHOD OF DATA ANALYSIS                                               25




4.1. DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS                               26

4.2. DISCUSSION OF RESULT/FINDINGS                                     38


5.1. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION                                             40

5.2. RECOMMENDATIONS                                                             41


REFERENCES                                                                                  44

THE QUESTIONNAIRE                                                                    48







Modern advertising is only about 100 years old but the use of advertising actually dates back at least to the 10th century BC. The use of picture in advertisements is necessary.  Advertisements with names and symbols on them are always easy for both illiterates and literates to identify. With the developing of printing, advertising made its first appearance in a form more nearly related to its present one. A small poster by William Claxton promoted the sale of a service book published in 1450. The first known newspaper advertisement also was a book notice, which appeared in a German News book in 1591. It is worthy of note that the common forms of advertising at that time were newspaper, street signs, posters, hand bills. The use was made of by United States government of advertisement during the civil war to sell bonds. The radio made its incursion into the advertisement world and began to challenge, seriously, newspapers and others. Television became very controversial because it changed the role of radio, as it became the major source of in-home entertainments since the 1950’s.


Gender issues in advertising refer to the fact that women are used in adverts to gratify men and men are also used to gratify women, therefore these gender displays are used heavily in advertising in order to establish the role of one gender in relation with the other. Some scholars argue that advertisers are obsessed with gender. It is also found that women are portrayed more negatively because even adverts that have men as key players portray them in a more descent way which forms the argument in this research work. In advertising, men are often portrayed in the following ways: Alert and conscious of surroundings, standing upright, eyes open and looking around, bodies are controlled, mean expression on face, gripping things tightly with hands, hands in pockets, serious, physically active, bravery, adventurousness, being able to think rationally, being strong and effective, for example, are all “manly” traits that are usually encouraged. So also is the ability to think independently and take the initiative. Media images supporting these behaviors include the strong, silent Marlboro man and military ads telling young men to be ‘all you can be’ while the following on the other hand are feminine Portrayals of women in advertising: touching self, caressing an object, lying on the floor, sitting on a bed or chair, eyes closed, not alert, confused, vulnerable, body contorted, dressed like a child, holding an object or a man for support, sexy and sexually available, seductive, playful, careless. These are positions of submissiveness and powerlessness. This can be clearly seen when women are shown lying on the floor as men are standing over them, literally depicting women as being beneath men. Women are urged to pursue beauty and sex appeal, and part of the sex appeal is submission and nudity for attraction whereas in certain parts of African traditional society, exposing of a female’s body is termed a taboo, just like the Muslim community forbid women from exposing themselves. The scientific nature of advertising perhaps has created a broad and wide room which impropriated the women folk, and exploitation of their intricate characters and quality. Women traditionally are seen in terms of their appearance, sexually and domestic relations.


Accordingly, feminist researchers like Inch man et al and Busty, conclusively submit that women tend to be shown as submissive, passive and are portrayed largely in terms of their sexuality or domesticity, while men tend to be shown as dominant, active and authoritative.


Nowadays, the impact of women in advertisements has generated a lot of controversy in many parts of the world. Some argue that women are used as followers in the advertisements. They see women as ornaments that are used to beautify the advertisement. They further went to say that women garnish the advertisements and make the adverts appealing to the eyes. To them the seductive nature of women helps a lot in creating interest in the product. Perhaps, this accounts for why most advert agencies see or feel the impact of women in advertisements as a powerful polarized force of feminine attraction over masculine, a phenomenon well cherished for quick awareness of advert and sale of product. The argument here reveals a situation of attraction and sustenance as a major factor in any advertisement. Advert agencies use more of women than men in television adverts of both male and general products. There are examples as that of beer and cigarette, which use women widely despite the fact that men actually consume the product more than the females. Also product adverts like Delta soap, Joy soap etc call to mind, the effects feminine roles in advertisements can have on the audience.


It is rare these days to see adverts on television screens, without women playing prominent and visible roles which often create controversy, such roles range from complementary, subjective, subordinate to major actors in most television adverts, therefore women’s impact in advertising is more than that of men. These roles not only enhance the product advertised, but add colour, glamour and pleasant feelings to viewers whose interest, attention and patronage are very much sought after hence the views of the uses and gratification theory of the mass media that commands the acceptance of the audience based on what they want to see and are interested in.


Women are seen oftentimes in the background performing seductive roles in Joy soap adverts, one of which showed a woman who just finished using Joy soap and as she moved along the road, men stared at her and lost control as if they were hypnotized.


Based on this background, it is obvious that even though men and women alike use Joy soap, women are considered more instrumental in its advertisement because of the seductive pictures the advertisers paint. This wrong application thereby creates more negative impressions than positive on audience.



The issue that triggered the need for this research work is Gender displays in advertising, particularly the excessive and inappropriate use of females.



This study is aimed at:

  • Revealing the gender issues in advertising.
  • Finding out how users of Joy soap feel about their advert.
  • Suggesting best ways to advertise without creating a wrong impression.



The observation about the gender issues in advertisements have for long agitated the minds of people. This study is a product of my long rooted curiosity to discover why women are used in almost all adverts and to help put things straight in that direction for the benefit of advertisers, the women themselves and the society at large.



Is the female gender portrayed more in Joy soap adverts?

Does this portrayal produce positive impacts?

Do women play seductive roles in advertisement?


Based on the research question written above, the following research hypotheses were generated.

H1     The female gender is portrayed more in Joy soap adverts

H0     The female gender is not portrayed more in Joy soap adverts

H2     This portrayal produces positive impacts

H0     This portrayal does not produce positive impacts

H3     Women play seductive roles in advertisements

H0     Women do not play seductive roles in advertisements



Gender issues in advertising is born out of the study of perception which reveals that people selectively choose, perceive and retain media messages on the basis of their needs and beliefs. Within consumer culture, the body is celebrated as a site of pleasure. It is desirable and desiring, and the closer the body is to the idealized images of youth, health, fitness, and beauty, the higher its exchange value. Consumer culture allows for the unabashed display of the human body. Therefore to get their attention about products, the messages must be based on what they want to see.


The above refers to Uses and Gratification theory. Uses and gratification theory was propounded by Katz in 1970 is concerned with how people use media for gratification of their needs. An outcome of Abraham Masclow’s Hierarchy of needs. It propounds the fact that people choose what they want to see or read and the different media or adverts in the context of this study compete to satisfy each individual’s needs.

Lull’s television research found that families used television for communication facilitation, relationship building and intimacy.

Contemporary research also indicates that people seek various forms of media content for many reasons. The psychological rewards which people receive from reading, hearing or viewing specific content determine the use to which they put to the media.



‘Gender issues in advertisements’ is very wide but I will delimit it to researching on the influence, impact and application of women in advertisements in relation with the male gender, studying Joy Tender Skincare bar, one of Nigeria’s leading soap brands with very strong heritage.



The topic: Gender issues in advertisements, impacts and applications have been indirectly treated by various researchers whose materials I have gone through but none really did justice to my research questions hereby making my information sourcing a lot more difficult.

Also, the time frame allocated to this research project is short compared to the extent I wish to go.



Gender refers to the juxtaposition between men and women or femininity and masculinity. It is this relationship that advertisers focus on, because people define themselves by gender, and gender can be “communicated at a glance,” making it easy for advertisers to use this theme in their work.

Issues in this context refer to the subject of discussion or general concern which refers to gender, particularly the feminine in relation with the masculine.

Advertising: The term advertising and advertisement can be defined in many different ways. One widely used definition, appropriate for many years but no longer so was simply “salesmanship print”. Perhaps a more precise definition of the subject would be: Advertising, the paid use of any channel of communication to identify, explain or urge the use or adoption of a product, service or idea. It could also be defined as any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods and services.

Impact contextually refers to the powerful or dramatic effect that gender roles play in advertisement.

Application is the use something is put to and/or the process and relevance of putting it to use. Therefore, application in this research work means the manner and relevance of the use of gender in advertisement.

Gender Advertisement refers to the images in advertising that depict stereotypical gender roles and displays. Gender displays are used heavily in advertising in order to establish the role of one gender in relation with the other, and some scholars argue that advertisers are obsessed with gender. However, unlike sex which is the product of biologically based male-female difference; gender is developed within humans as a result of socialization, and normally correlates very highly with biological sex.



Goffman, Erving. (2011,October 14). Erving Goffman & gender advertisements. Retrieved from http://

Jhally, Sut. (2011, October 14).What’s wrong with a little objectification. Retrieved from http://

Mark Akuma Eze (Esq). (2011), Fundamentals of Communication theories: de-verge agencies,Enugu. PP.127,128.

Nnayelugo Okoro, Ben Agbo. (2003). Writing for the media and Society; Prize Publishers, Nsukka, Nigeria. P.31.


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